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Japan Foundation/Subaru Telescope Award Grant to ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center

December 23, 2015, 3:14 PM HST
* Updated December 23, 3:37 PM
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The 'Imiloa Astronomy Center. University of Hawai'i at Hilo photo.

The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center. University of Hawai’i at Hilo photo.

Hawaiʻi Island students will enjoy greater access to educational experiences at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center in 2016, thanks to a gift from the Japan Foundation for Promotion of Astronomy through Subaru Telescope.

Earlier this month, the foundation awarded a grant of $7,200 to ‘Imiloa for its school field trip program, with the funds designated to help support roundtrip transportation costs for schools outside Hilo.

During the 2014-15 school year, ‘Imiloa hosted 11,290 students, teachers and chaperones on 266 different curriculum-related field trips—the equivalent of more than one on-site field trip each weekday the facility was open.

The majority of the visiting groups—53%—were elementary school students, with 16% from intermediate school and 21% from high school.

Slightly over half of all student visitors came from Hawaiʻi Island schools, with the remainder traveling from Oʻahu, the Neighbor Islands, the US Mainland and overseas.

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“We feel a very special responsibility to ensure broad access to our programming for local students and schools here on Hawaiʻi Island,” said ‘Imiloa Executive Director Kaʻiu Kimura. “This generous grant from the Japan Foundation for Promotion of Astronomy will be of tremendous assistance in meeting our goal of continuing to subsidize roundtrip bus transportation for all eligible Hawaiʻi Island classes. We are very grateful to the JFPA and Subaru Telescope for this vote of confidence in our programming.”

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‘Imiloa’s signature field trips are customized in consultation with the organizing teacher to meet the needs of the grade level and include content that directly supported the curriculum the students are studying. At the end of the two-hour field trip, students receive curriculum worksheets to take back and complete in class.

Each class is offered a choice of shows in ‘Imiloa’s fulldome 3-D digital planetarium, along with hands-on experiences in its interactive exhibit hall and native gardens.

Typical of many comments is one from a Hilo-area teacher who organized a field trip for her class this year.

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“Many of our students receive free/reduced lunch, and finances are a struggle,” the teacher shared. “So, for them to go to ‘Imiloa is such a luxury!”

Another added, “It is very difficult nowadays to get field trips approved and they must be highly linked to academic standards, so we are thankful that we can add ‘Imiloa to our list.”

Over the past 15 years, the Japan Foundation for Promotion of Astronomy through Subaru Telescope has made over $132,000 in grants to UH Hilo to support initiatives that foster education about astronomy in the local community. These have included the creation of exhibits and planetarium shows at ‘Imiloa, the construction of a traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoe and scholarships for students participating in Camp ‘IMI-Possible.

To support field trips for local students, call ‘Imiloa at (808) 932-8921 or make a gift online.

hilo ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i To learn how to arrange a field trip, to ‘Imiloa, go online.

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i is located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, off Komohana and Nowelo streets at the UH Hilo Science and Technology Park.

For more information, go online or call (808) 969-9703.

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